I apologise for the long, long wait for this chapter. If people are actually still reading this then doubly so as it's been…a year? Over a year? I'm not too sure on the specifics. But as it might have been obvious from my profile, and extended absence, I fell out of the Skip Beat fandom quite spectacularly.
There's not really any excuse I can give you – not even writers block as this entire fic has already been planned out. Just that I couldn't physically write anything without getting supremely irritated with the characters. Which…isn't a good thing when you're trying to write a story.
So I disappeared, at least until I could sit down and type something that didn't make me want to throw my laptop away in disgust.
That day was today.
(And just to let any new readers know – this began waaaaay before Reino made his first appearance - so it's set around the beginning.)
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Kyoko woke to the warmth of the sun caressing her cheek. Blinking sleepily for a moment she took the time to roll and stretch, her back arching under the blankets, before she collapsed in a relaxed heap.
Lying on her back, she watched as dust swirled in the sunlight, gold flecks dancing upon the air currents, billowing as she breathed in and out. She could smell breakfast being cooked – not only for the small family she had built for herself here, but for the early morning pundits that would soon drop by if they had time before work.
Outside her window was the sound of Japan just starting to wake; a cry of a bird, a dog barking, and the puttering of a car as its owner got a head-start on the early morning traffic that would clog the roads in half an hour's time.
Pushing herself onto her elbows, Kyoko looked around the room – her room – and sighed happily. Today felt like a good day.
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she stood and padded her way over to the small wardrobe she owned and glanced at the outfits inside. There weren't many. Just the few clothes that she owned before she came to Tokyo and the t-shirts and jeans that she had bought when she had arrived here with Sho.
Sho. Her hand tightened on the handle until her knuckles turned white and she scowled, clenching her jaw so hard her teeth ached. That bastard could ruin anyone's day - and this one hadn't even started yet!
With control she didn't know she had she made herself relax. No, not today. Today was a good day. Hadn't she just thought that? She wouldn't let Sho ruin today, whether it was through memories or in person.
Feeling a little better she rifled through the clothes. What she needed was a cute outfit that was also semi-smart. She had found out through her landlord that one of his friends, an owner of a small, traditional inn tucked away on the outskirts of the city, was holding a small tea ceremony this afternoon.
Kyoko planned to take Shigo-san there so that he could enjoy some of the more traditional delights of her country.
It was only a very good coincidence that the small town that the inn was based in was also having a festival.
They wouldn't be able to take the train – not that Shigo seemed inclined to travel by train – so she had had to make some last minute calls to L.M.E's president to arrange transport.
Lory had chuckled over the phone and confirmed that there would be a car ready and available to take them wherever she wanted.
That was if she could find anything to wear. Despair started to curl in her stomach when her eyes caught on a pale pink top that was perfect and that would go brilliantly with the denim skirt that she owned.
Relieved that she wouldn't embarrass herself or her guest, she snatched the clothes and slipped into them, smoothing out the wrinkles as she plonked herself down in front of the second hand vanity table that she had been given.
Reaching for the brush, she grinned at her reflection.
"Today's going to be a good day." She told herself. "And if it isn't," she declared loudly, "I'll make it a good day!"
She pointed the brush imperiously at the mirror and struck a pose, "You will obey me, do you understand?"
Her reflection didn't answer, but that didn't stop her from bursting out into loud laughter.
Downstairs the owner glanced up at the ceiling as Kyoko's laughter echoed throughout the building. "I hope she's alright," she murmured as she set the small table for breakfast.
Her husband grunted as he finished off the fish. "Spirited."
His wife smiled, "She is at that."
The sound of Kyoko clattering down the stairs successfully distracted them from any further conversation.
"Good morning!" Kyoko called out cheerfully.
"Good morning, Kyoko-chan. Did you sleep well?"
Kyoko watched as the woman who was slowly becoming more and more like a mother to her, bustled around her husband, setting the table with breakfast food. Seeing them together, being able to know without speaking, who was doing what, made her smile.
It reminded her of Sho's parents. But standing here, she was surrounded by a lot more warmth. There wasn't the expectance of perfection in her every action. They were quite happy if she made mistakes, being there to brush her down and get her standing – pushing her, if need be, to do things she never expected she could.
Absentmindedly, she wondered if this was what a home was supposed to feel like.
A curious look directed at her reminded her that she had been asked a question.
"Ah, yes." Kyoko answered, feeling her cheeks heat up slightly in embarrassment as she slipped into her seat at the table. "I slept very well, and I have decided that today is going to be a good day."
"And what do you have planned for today? Are you still showing that man around?"
Kyoko hummed in agreement as she reached for her chopsticks, breaking them with a quiet "Itadakimasu".
"Yes," she said, "I thought I'd take him to that tea ceremony that you told me about and then over to see the festival that they're holding."
"Well then, make sure you eat everything. You'll need all your energy."
Kyoko smiled happily at the hint of worry. Yes, this was exactly what a home was supposed to feel like, and she was grateful that she could experience it.
"What time will you be leaving?" The gruff voice interrupted her thoughts.
Kyoko startled slightly, and then glanced down at her watch. "Um, well the driver is going to pick up Shigo-san before collecting me, so I'd say that I've got another half an hour or so."
A thoughtful nod later, and they were back to eating in an easy silence.
Kyoko didn't usually look twice at the normal, everyday cars used by L.M.E employees. That is, of course, if they weren't the car's belonging to the president – they always made you look twice. Sometimes you had to stand and stare, just so you could believe your eyes, and even then it didn't always work.
But the armada of other cars? Nope.
Sure, they were foreign and large, but they didn't really stand out all that much against the back-drop of the city. The L.M.E building in particular.
Seeing a Audi idling, its engine a low, rumbling purr that echoed between the buildings, outside the front of the restaurant, its sleek black paint glimmering in the sun, made her realise just how out of place they actually were.
They seemed even more out of place when the back door of the car opened and the imposing figure of Shigo stepped out, placing one hand on the door and the other on the roof of the car as he scanned the area.
"Ms Mogami-san." He called lightly, knocking her out of her daze.
"O-oh!" She scrambled behind the open door for a moment, trying to grab the bag she had placed there not two minutes ago so she could put on her shoes, completely flustered. "Coming! I'm coming, Shigo-san!"
She managed to half-run, half-walk with dignity down the path to the road outside, ignoring the looks she was receiving from curious bystanders.
"Good morning, Shigo-san." She said politely as she came up to him.
He looked at her, his expression stony. But Kyoko could sort-of, kind of make out a hint of warmth. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on her part. She would really like Shigo-san to like her – if only so he didn't have to spend the rest of his visit with someone he didn't like. She knew how annoying that could be.
He slowly lowered his head in a sort of mock-bow to her and then stepped back from where he was blocking the open door of the car. "Ms Mogami-san." He murmured as he held out his hand for her to take to help her into the car, his eyes quickly darting taking in everything surrounding them. "Good morning. Perhaps we should make our way to the venue?"
Kyoko blushed "Ah, yes." She mumbled, fiddling with her bag strap.
"Then by all means." He murmured, indicating for her to get into the car.
Still flushed, she accepted his assistance, his hand warm as she gripped it lightly; sliding across the leather backseat and checking her skirt to make sure it hadn't rode up. Being helped like that made her feel like a princess! Once she was sure that she was presentable, she glanced up to see what was taking Shigo-san so long in joining her.
He was still standing, blocking the open door of the car. She watched as he did one last scan of the area around them before he too slid into the seat next to her.
A small part of her wondered what that was all about, but it was over-ruled by the much larger part that told her to mind her manners and ignore the slightly odd behaviour.
As soon as the door closed, cutting them off from the outside world, the car revved to life and started to move. There was an awkward pause as Kyoko tried to find something to talk about, whilst Shigo looked uninterestingly out of the tinted windows.
"Um…" She said, and then inwardly winced when Shigo turned to look at her, his expression…well, not open, but with a hint of polite curiosity.
"I," she stuttered lightly, "I hope you enjoy where we're going today."
"I do not know where we are going, but I'm sure it will be fine." His accent curled around her, and the spark of curiosity, about where he had come from, fizzled inside of her. It was nothing she could specifically pick out – in fact; it seemed like a mixture of accents.
But, to be fair, she hadn't met a lot of people from other places, so it could very well be that she had just not come across it before.
Kyoko blinked herself out of it, and then flushed darkly as she realised her oversight. "Oh! I thought the president would have mentioned…" she trailed off at the blank stare she was receiving, and then took a fortifying breath. "There's a traditional tea ceremony being held that I'm taking you to, and then we can go visit the nearby festival."
Shigo nodded slowly, his gaze faraway, and Kyoko had a sudden thought that this was a man who weighed every little thing, measuring all the facts before he acted. Looking at a situation without bringing anything to it.
She shivered. That could be a good thing, but what sort of actions could he justify to himself using that approach? There was a quiet, methological dangerousness to Shigo and, not for the first time, a strand of fear curled in her stomach.
"That sounds wonderful."
The deep voice, coming so unexpectedly, made all the hair on her body rise, and she shot a nervous glance at her travelling companion, feeling all-together too trapped.
But he was just sitting there, not having moved an inch, his hands resting lightly on his knees, his body facing forward with only his head turned towards her.
Kyoko shifted slightly and smiled a slightly strained smile. "G-good. With traffic, we should take a few hours to get there."
Shigo didn't make any mention of the stutter, or the way she was obviously, suddenly a lot more wary of him. Instead he blinked once, hummed a non-committal answer and turned to face out of the window again.
Kyoko let out a silent sigh of relief and sagged back into her seat as soon as that gaze was off her. What on earth had that been about? For half a second there, she had felt like a mouse stuck between a wall and a hungry cat.
She shivered slightly at the analogy she had come up with. Shigo-san wasn't that bad. He couldn't be. The president trusted him and that should be enough for her to trust him too.
No matter how suspiciously he acted.
Okay – the next chapter should be out sooner than this chapter. Lol.